SBD/December 16, 2010/Leagues and Governing BodiesPrint All
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell yesterday said a new CBA could be in place by February's Super Bowl "if we all commit to it and work hard at it," according to Jaime Aron of the AP. Following a day of meetings with NFL team owners, Goodell said, "There's no higher priority than getting a collective bargaining agreement. So we will work night and day to get that done." When asked whether he expects the same from the NFLPA, he said, "I hope so." Goodell added that the league "has no deadline" to reach a new deal, but noted the CBA expires March 4. Goodell: "This becomes harder after the labor agreement expires. We want to get this done as soon as possible." He indicated that he "doesn't think it is practical to expect negotiations to get serious enough fast enough" to reach a deal by the end of the regular season, as Patriots Owner Robert Kraft has suggested. But Goodell added, "I think the end of the postseason is realistic." Aron noted the "major sticking point is the owners demanding to restructure the players' share of designated revenues," while the league's desire to add two more regular-season games is "another point of contention." Still, Colts Owner Jim Irsay said, "There's nothing that's unusual or anything earth-shattering right now. The process continues is the best way to put it." Goodell added that it is a "good sign that the league and the NFLPA are talking, but he called that only a start" (AP, 12/15). Eagles Owner Jeffrey Lurie: "Everyone wants to head in the right direction. That's everyone's intention" (WASHINGTON POST, 12/16).
MORE PRESSING ISSUES: Goodell yesterday said that he "hoped that the recent agreement between the league office and the union to postpone a union filing of a collusion claim -- the league office lifted the deadline for such a claim -- was an indication that the two sides could negotiate to solve their problems." Goodell: "Obviously we’re seeing a lot of rhetoric and other tactics, including litigation strategies that I think are all distractions and attempts to get leverage. I understand that. But at the end of the day this will get solved at the negotiating table. That’s where we should be." Meanwhile, Falcons President Rich McKay, Chair of the NFL's Competition Committee, yesterday indicated that he will "raise the question of whether playoff teams should be seeded according to regular-season records, not according to whether teams are division champions or wild cards" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/16).
FAVRE RULING COMING IN NEAR FUTURE: Goodell said that he "expects to rule" on Vikings QB Brett Favre's alleged misconduct with former Jets employee Jenn Sterger "in the near future." In Ft. Worth, Pete Alfano notes it is "becoming a moot point, however, with only three games remaining" in the season and Favre's consecutive games started streak having ended (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/16).
NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday indicated that the league should "transition to an economic model closer to the NFL and its hard salary cap as the players and owners continue to work" on a new CBA, according to Dan Wolken of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Stern discussed the NBA's competitive balance, saying, "People would say one of the most competitive leagues is the NFL, and what do you think makes it so competitive? That's a tough decision to make, but our owners are getting there." Stern yesterday "spoke briefly at the Greater Memphis Chamber's annual lunch" and talked to fans for about 30 minutes prior to last night's Bobcats-Grizzlies game inside the Grizzlies' practice facility. He said, "This is going to be looked back on as a golden era. All in all, it's a great time to be an NBA fan." He did acknowledge, however, that CBA negotiations have "been 'a little bumpy,' and while he refused to predict whether a lockout will eat into the 2011-12 season, he made very clear the owners' willingness to take a hard-line stance." Stern also "criticized the current system, where teams can use exceptions to spend above the salary cap and pay a luxury tax." He said, "We have to get a better model where all teams are capable of making a profit and all teams can win a championship. If we don't get that, we should be worried" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 12/16).
THINK BEFORE YOU ACT: In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell notes Stern had a "message for the players Wednesday, concerning reports they might decertify their union as a lockout strategy: Think about whom you’d hurt more." He called decertification "the nuclear option" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/16). Lakers G and NBPA President Derek Fisher Tuesday night admitted that the "rank and file will look at decertification as an option for the union to deal with the changes ownership is seeking." Fisher would not confirm "whether a vote is underway by the players to dissolve the union as another means to bargain with the owners, who seem intent on locking the players out." He said, "I've kind of resigned to really staying focused on what we're trying to get accomplished in terms of a collective bargaining agreement and still recognizing that decertification is something [that] is real and it's tangible. But right now our focus is not that" (L.A. TIMES, 12/16).
NO TURNING BACK NOW: TRUEHOOP's Larry Coon noted yesterday was the NBA's "deadline for notifying" the NBPA if it wanted to extend the CBA beyond this season, though it was "just a formality." As of today, the league "couldn’t change its mind unilaterally even if it wanted to." Fisher believes that the "negotiating process would go more smoothly without the added burden of a looming deadline." He said, "That would really allow us all to continue to work through this process without the pressure of a deadline, but the owners have declined so far" (ESPN.com, 12/15).
CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer, the only American on FIFA’s Exec Committee, said at the start of the ’18 and ’22 World Cup bid process, “no one took Qatar’s bid seriously and the U.S. was more focused on Australia,” according to Jack Bell of the N.Y. TIMES. But Blazer said as “time went on, Qatar’s ascendancy grew.” Blazer sat for a Q&A, and the following are excerpts from the interview.
Q: There were some eyebrows raised over your early support for and subsequent vote for Russia. And apparently you were quite impressed during your inspection tour. What tipped the balance for you?
Blazer: First of all, Europe had four pretty good bids, not one was a dog, four very different bids. I felt in the end, the bid from Spain and Portugal in 2018 might still be facing some economic issues given what [is] going on in those two countries. They have facilities that need work. … In Russia, what was intriguing aside from development issues surrounding the stadiums -- what became clear is that there is an economy that 20 years ago started to build new structures. … What I learned during [a] trip is that there is a true commitment to resources. In Sochi for the Olympics, there are projects going on, about $30 billion worth of work. New roads, stadiums, facilities. They are all far enough along so that it’s not just pie in the sky. I saw their plan and have a certainty it will be fulfilled. … From my perspective they will get the job done and done well. As the chairman of FIFA’s TV committee and a member of the marketing advisory board, I got a good view of how the sponsors would be impacted. It’s an important emerging market to all sponsors, a secure country that will be building more stadiums that will increase the level of activity inside the football society in Russia. There’s life in Russia.
Q: Where do we, the U.S., go from here?
Blazer: Getting the World Cup would have helped speed up the process and the progress. But in the end, we will make that progress with or without the World Cup. Part of the problem injected into the [bid] process were elements that weren’t clear or that had been there before. This talk about legacy. Do you want to go where you can have the best World Cup possible? Then the best answer is England and the U.S. But somewhere along the line, the legacy feature got interjected. To some extent, it’s not fair, just to be looking at opening up new areas.
Q: Was this process, the awarding of two tournaments simultaneously, the best way to do it?
Blazer: I don’t know. We need to look at it and discuss it. In retrospect, awarding two together is not a good idea. When we made [the] decision for South Africa, the economics were uncertain. So the idea to sell two by bundling them seemed like a good idea at the time to lock in things. This became an environment where deal making became prevalent and I think everyone recognizes that this probably was not a good idea (NYTIMES.com, 12/15).